Saturday, December 04, 2021

Who do the Democrats Have for 2024?

Once Joe Biden actually withdrew from Afghanistan, and didn't try to take his personal stamp off of the withdrawal even when it kind of went to shit (as all withdrawals by losing forces in war do), I started assuming he wasn't planning to run for election in 2024.

He says differently, but I still think it's a safe assumption (Robert Wright and Mickey Kaus agree with me).

He'll be 81 in 2024, and he's doing (the Afghan withdrawal) and trying to do (the ginormous "infrastructure" boondoggles) the kinds of "burnish my legacy with things that may not be as popular as they are controversial right now, but that I predict, correctly or not, will look pretty wise 20 years from now") stuff that a guy not worried about the next election might try to do, while a guy worried about the next election probably wouldn't.

So, who do the Democrats nominate in 2024?

Kamala Harris is right out. Nobody liked her when she briefly ran for president in 2020, she probably cost the Democratic ticket votes in the general election, nobody likes her now, and nobody's going to start liking her. Being the sitting vice-president might give her some advantage in the primaries, but probably not enough to win it if she has any credible opponents -- and if she did she'd crash and burn against any credible Republican candidate in the general election.

There's some buzz around Pete Buttigieg, but I'm just not seeing it. He's not, as Erick Erickson would have us believe, "spectacularly unaccomplished," but he doesn't tick the usual "accomplishment" boxes -- sitting vice-president, sitting or former governor, sitting or former US Senator, or former victorious general -- that garner presidential nominations and general presidential election victories these days (Donald Trump excepted).

So, again, who?

If I was a Democratic strategist looking for a good horse to put in the race, I'd look for a Democratic governor who's won that office in either a usually fairly solid Republican state, or a "swing" state. 

Specifically, I'd look at, in descending order of shininess:

  1. Jared Polis of Colorado. There's some debate over whether Colorado is still a "swing" state, but it's at least arguable, and Polis has a lot going from him. He's got a net worth in excess of $100 million, meaning he could self-finance early campaign work. He's got a back trail of political "accomplishments" besides his governorship to advertise, including five terms in Congress. He has cross-partisan appeal (he was the only Democratic member of the congressional "Liberty Caucus"). He has identity politics appeal if he wants to use it (he's gay and Jewish).
  2. Laura Kelly of Kansas. In a dark red state, she spent 14 years in the state Senate, and was then elected governor, as a Democrat.
  3. Andy Beshear of Kentucky. The state that routinely elects Mitch McConnell to the US Senate also elected Beshear as state attorney general, then as governor.
"Governor" is the most usual resume item for becoming "president." And these three governors have proven they can beat Republicans in competitive races.

Am I predicting that one of these three will be the 2024 Democratic presidential nominee? No. I'm pretty damn good at predicting presidential general election outcomes and terrible at predicting nominations. But if I was a Democrat who was interested in winning, I think I'd be begging Polis to run.

Confession and Pro Tip: The (Pay)Wall (Often) Comes Tumbling Down

Yes, I'm a hypocrite. And I guess letting one moral holding slip leads to overall decay.

That is, I used to hold, and still generally believe, that there's an implicit contract between web content providers and readers such that if one uses an ad blocker, one is not entitled to the content. Entertaining the ads is the "price" of "free" content.

Nonetheless, I use an ad blocker. It used to be uBlock Origin, but now it's the built in ad/tracker blocking in the Vivaldi browser.

Why? Well, because I want to see the fucking content, that's why. I don't have a problem with ads in principle, but these days a lot of sites stack them so thick, and display them using such resource-intensive scripts, that if I don't block the ads I end up not seeing the page at all, or having a single page slow my whole computer to a crawl.

Morally, that's not an excuse. There's a price on the content, and I'm taking that content without paying. Mea culpa.

And now I find myself getting more serious about avoiding paywalls, which is a different specimen of the same moral failing.

If a publication puts up a paywall, it's because they're selling the content, not giving it away. Avoiding the paywall is pretty much the moral equivalent of shoplifting.

Of course, a lot of sites make it very easy -- delete cookies and refresh the page and you're in, that kind of thing. It's like a store that keeps a stack of expensive electronics near the front door, with no security scanners at the door, no personnel checking receipts, and a big sign that says "$99.99 ... unless you just pick it up and walk out with it, in which case we'll do nothing."

Other sites don't make it as easy, or at least are working on making it harder. I used to just give up.

Now -- this is the pro tip part of the post -- I use 12ft Ladder. It exploits Google crawler cache results to display full versions of paywalled content.

It doesn't work 100% of the time (the New York Times, National Review, and Foreign Policy seem immune to it, for example), but it does work on a lot of content at a lot of sites.

I guess I'm a bad, bad man.

Friday, December 03, 2021

Fairly Short and Hopefully Spoiler-Free (Partial) Review -- Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Yes, it's a partial review ... I didn't see the entire movie. I think I saw about 2/3 of it before the theater (and, it seems, the whole shopping center and perhaps some significant part of Gainesville) lost electrical power, after which all the techno-gadgets (including e.g. computerized digital movie projectors set to automatic showtimes, etc.) remained screwed up even when the lights came on.

I have the "unlimited" plan -- all the movies I care to watch -- but I still got a free ticket out of the deal, so I may take Tamara to see West Side Story. Maybe I'll go see Ghostbusters: Afterlife (all of it this time) while she's at work one day and have her meet me for a second show when she's done for the day.

So, the partial review: It's a fun movie, full stop.

The main protagonists are in the 12-18 range and I'd say it's somewhat aimed at that demographic, but there's also a whole "single mother / teacher who's easy on the eyes and appreciates the precocious 12-year-old" love angle going.

And then there's the mystery of what Egon Spengler was up to before he died, and of course there are Ghostbusters-style ghosts, and quite a few perfectly done "jump in your seat" moments, some expected and some not.

I dunno -- Ghostbusters meets Goonies meets The Parent Trap might be the vibe I'm getting. And I like it. I'd probably go see it again even if I didn't have to see it again to finish it.

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